SOCIETY

Letter to Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias

Minister,

Why is my wife, British and a resident of Greece, being excluded from the Covid vaccination program?

There is growing evidence that cases like hers are a developing issue being replicated across Greece and affecting the country’s sizable expatriate population.

My wife is 75 (76th year) and within the current age cohort for vaccination. She has a biometric residence permit, AMKA, EHIC cover and a valid UK passport. And yet, using all methods of identification, repeated attempts to book a vaccination slot on the Emvolio platform are being rejected. The reasons given are that she is not in the current age cohort – patently incorrect – and that the AMKA number – verified – cannot be identified.

Attempts to register have been made directly and through local pharmacies. Queries using the relevant dialogue box on the platform go unanswered. We have sought help from the local KEP, EODY and with the input of Greek friends and associates. All are at a loss to understand why this is happening and are clearly embarrassed that it is.

As the days pass, we see all our Greek contemporaries being vaccinated or offered appointments. A close Greek friend, the same age as my wife almost to the day, has had no difficulty obtaining a vaccination date. We hear similar accounts from expatriate friends wintering on Leros. And a string of posts from foreign residents across the country on the (GTP) Greek Travel Pages website suggest that this is far from an isolated issue.

We have now had to raise the issue with our own government which advises its citizens to obtain vaccination locally and NOT to return home for it. These problems seem only to affect non-Greek citizens, for which there is no workaround or alternative route to follow.

Why is this? Is this simply an administrative or technical issue?

If so it should, at the very least, have been openly acknowledged by now with some offer of resolution. It makes no sense to allow bureaucratic obstacles to stand in the way of individual and national health during a pandemic.

If it is not, are we to suppose that Greece has an undeclared policy of “Greeks first,” other nationalities to the back of the queue? Certainly, I see no reach out on this issue to the foreign community by the Greek state. It is an unpalatable thought which needs swift rebuttal if untrue and a practical resolution from ministerial level.

Without intervention, suspicions of vaccine nationalism are only likely to grow.

A. Gibson

Ermioni, Argolida